Source: Suspect in custody in abortion doc slaying - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Source: Suspect in custody in abortion doc slaying

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -- A Wichita city official says a suspect is in custody in the shooting death of late-term abortion provider George Tiller.

The city official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the case. The official did not provide additional details.

An attorney for Tiller, Dan Monnat, says the doctor was shot Sunday as he served as an usher during morning services at Reformation Lutheran Church. Monnat said Tiller's wife, Jeanne, was in the choir at the time of the shooting.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Late-term abortion doctor George Tiller, a prominent advocate for abortion rights wounded by a protester more than a decade ago, was shot and killed Sunday at a church in Wichita where he was serving as an usher and his wife was in the choir, his attorney said.

Tiller was shot during morning services at Reformation Lutheran Church, attorney Dan Monnat said. Police said a manhunt was under way for the shooter, who fled in a car registered to a Kansas City suburb nearly 200 miles away.

National anti-abortion groups had long focused on Tiller, whose Women's Health Care Services clinic is one of just three in the nation where abortions are performed after the 21st week of pregnancy.

In 1991, the Summer of Mercy protests organized by Operation Rescue drew thousands of anti-abortion activists to this city for demonstrations marked by civil disobedience and mass arrests.

Some abortion opponents had resorted to attacks against Tiller long before Sunday's shooting. A protester shot Tiller in both arms in 1993, and his clinic was bombed in 1985.

Anti-abortion group Operation Rescue issued a statement denouncing the shooting.

"We are shocked at this morning's disturbing news that Mr. Tiller was gunned down," said Troy Newman, Operation Rescue's president. "Operation Rescue has worked for years through peaceful, legal means, and through the proper channels to see him brought to justice. We denounce vigilantism and the cowardly act that took place this morning."

Capt. Brent Allred said Wichita police were looking for a gunman who fled in a 1993 light blue Ford Taurus registered in the Kansas City suburb of Merriam, Kan. No other details about the shooting were immediately released.

The phone line at the home of Tiller and wife, Jeanne, had a busy signal Sunday.

Tiller began providing abortion services in 1973. He acknowledged abortion was as socially divisive as slavery or prohibition but said the issue was about giving women a choice when dealing with technology that can diagnose severe fetal abnormalities before a baby is born.

"Pre-natal testing without pre-natal choices is medical fraud," Tiller once said.

After the 1991 protests, Tiller kept mostly to his heavily guarded clinic, although in 1997 he opened it to three tours by state lawmakers and the media.

Tiller remained prominent in the news, in part because of an investigation started begun by former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, an abortion opponent.

Prosecutors had alleged that Tiller had gotten second opinions from a doctor who was essentially an employee of his, not independent as state law requires. A jury in March acquitted Tiller of all 19 misdemeanor counts.

"I am stunned by this lawless and violent act, which must be condemned and should be met with the full force of law," Kline said in a written statement. "We join in lifting prayer that God's grace and presence rest with Dr. Tiller's family and friends."

Abortion opponents also questioned then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' ties to Tiller before the Senate confirmed her this year as U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary. Tiller donated thousands of dollars to Sebelius over the years.

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